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Google’s head of civil rights Chanelle Hardy is fighting for Blacks in America

Chanelle Hardy’s superpowers are empathy, tenacity, and creativity

Chanelle Hardy is a social justice, tech policy, and civil rights expert. As head of civil rights for Google, she leads the company on engagement with multicultural and civil rights organizations. The much-lauded advocate launched and leads Google’s Next-Gen Policy Leaders Program, a learning community for multicultural leaders in tech policy. Before joining Google, Hardy served as chief of staff on Capitol Hill, SVP of policy for the National Urban League, and chief of staff to the first woman chair of the Federal Communications Commission.

Please tell us about your position at Google.

It’s been an honor to be in this role. There are two parts of the work I think about, and one is the program. As we all recall in 2020, when corporate America kind of got a conscience about racial equity, that was a moment where we thought about how we build a lasting infrastructure to make sure that what we’re doing in terms of civil and human rights is not based on a crisis of the moment. So, we launched our human rights executive council. We explicitly gave our board oversight over civil and human rights, and they oversee the program that I run, which is ensuring that our company understands the implications of civil rights … our products, tools, and policies, and is supporting. We just completed a civil rights audit, to look across the company and see what we need to do better. It was a great exercise. I get to work with a lot of our mutual friends because I manage our stakeholder relationships with all of the national, civil, and human rights organizations in the country.

What are your superpowers as an accomplished Black woman?

I think my superpower is empathy, tenacity, and creativity. Empathy because I think back to reading W.E.B. Dubois’ book The Souls of Black Folk and understanding that we can walk in double consciousness. I’m grateful that I’m able to understand the suffering, the challenges, and the hope that other people have, whether they’re Black or not. I think being Black in America uniquely positions you to have that insight and tenacity, obviously growing up as a Black girl, but then being in the civil rights movement, folks have been fighting the same battles for generation after generation. It looks a little different, but it’s the same battle. So, I don’t get tired of the fight, and folks will sometimes say, “Don’t you get tired doing this every day? Isn’t it discouraging when you see another shooting?” Of course, it is, but it’s also not going to stop me from getting up and fighting again. For creativity, if you can’t solve a problem one way, let’s try another. That’s something that’s also part of our history – we can make something out of nothing.

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